When we think about the idea of “discipleship” – actually being a disciple of Jesus – it’s easy to get all sorts of unhelpful images in our minds. Discipleship can conjure up images of ancient dudes walking around in robes throughout the countryside like spiritual hippies. In a more modern context, discipleship can seem like something reserved for the super-religious, those who have a tendency to be “too heavenly minded to be any earthly good”. Certainly, it’s not for us regular folks who have lives to live, and bills to pay, and families to care for. Right?
In ‘The Imperfect Disciple: Grace for People Who Can’t Get Their Act Together’, author Jared C. Wilson seeks to bring the notion of discipleship into the world of everyday people. Wilson is an experienced pastor who is on an indefinite sabbatical, currently working as director of content strategy for Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City. In ‘The Imperfect Disciple’, he reminds us all that discipleship isn’t someplace we “arrive” at someday, once we’ve got more of our spiritual ducks in a row. It’s a path Jesus calls us to walk – and often stumble down – each day of our lives, no matter how messy those lives are.
What does discipleship look like? In it’s simplest terms, it’s a willingness to believe, trust, and follow Jesus, even when our lives aren’t shiny, happy Facebook or Instagram photos. Wilson describes some of the different ways discipleship can look early in the book:
“Believing God has a plan for me even when I’m afraid he doesn’t.”
“Believing God loves me even when I feel like nobody else does.”
“Trusting that God is doing something for my good even though my life has always been terrible up till now.”
“Following Jesus even though my feelings speak more loudly.”
“Denying myself in order to do what’s right although I don’t really want to.”
“Imagining a time when I won’t hurt as much as I do now.”
“Imagining a time when my spouse or child won’t hurt as much as they do now.”
Throughout the book, Wilson recalls events and stories from his life as a believer and a pastor – both humorous and serious. He also draws on stories from scripture. Together they weave a picture of what real-life discipleship looks like, and offer hope for those of us who feel like we’re not good enough.
We’re far from perfect. But God calls us to lean into His perfection, forgiveness, and strength, and to accept the righteousness that Jesus gives us as a gift – given to those who are willing to believe and follow Him. Allow ‘The Imperfect Disciple’ to encourage and inspire you to truly view yourself as a disciple of Jesus, and to help you along the difficult, narrow, but exceedingly worthwhile path of life-long discipleship.
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